Common Ground

A faint glowing promise of light glimmers in the east as I wait for both the sun and any elk crossing over the saddle of the ridge my pre-dawn hike has led me to this day.

The wind is blowing a weak breeze to my right up the small drainage unnamed on any map. If the elk come from my left and into view along their ancient trail, I will be ready.

It took an hour to move as quietly as possible to this place of belonging, claiming both my presence on the Earth and the right to be myself, at peace with my mission and intentions.

Each carefully chosen step was like a station of the cross on some pilgrimage of great importance. I do penitence by waiting hours in the freezing cold.

It must be this way if my prayers to brother Elk for his life are to be answered.

Once settled in my nest, the fountain pen and small notebook are pulled quietly from the pack. Each motion is deliberate and slow. Time and the mind meld as one.

It takes effort to hold one’s place in this universe, standing here this way on the edge of both Earth and sky. You surrender to the pull of life and your place in it.

Here my life is genuine. No falsehoods. No games to play jockeying for position, status, favor. Success or failure does not matter.

I walked here in a sacred manner, each breath matching my steps until the journey and destination were one and the same.

Life is sacred. The preparation needed to take wildness from this place must be followed. “You need a good heart,” the Ancestor’s voice whispers to my very soul, followed by deafening silence.

The noise of pen across paper is too loud.

It is time to put distractions away and center all energy on intense soul searching. Anything that is not right must be purged.

Placing my hand to my heart, I pray forgiveness for the hatred harbored in the secret places of my life. This is hard work. An old hatred still lingers. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

“Forgive me, Grandfather,” my lips whisper as I pull hard on the hand over my heart and, like throwing a scorpion from stinking flesh, cast an empty hand into the air.

It may return, knowing full well what it means to be human. But for now there is peace.

This deep anger could well up again next time some fool shooter calling himself a hunter crosses my path. Blinded by blood lust with booze on their breath, they will open their ignorant mouth and every fiber in my being will be called upon for restraint.

The desire to wrap their rifle around their neck in such a way that it would stay there the rest of their lives must leave me. We answer to the Creator for our own sins.

Bird songs greet another sunrise as I head home empty-handed and full-hearted.

Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week.

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